Moderate Intensity

Definition - What does Moderate Intensity mean?

Moderate intensity is a term used to describe the level of effort expended by a particular physical activity. Because the exact intensity of an activity varies among individuals, terms such as moderate or vigorous are used as a guide.

The World Health Organization defines a moderate intensity activity is one that increases a person's heart rate to 40-60 percent of his or her maximum heart rate. Other health experts define moderate intensity activities as those that burn 3.5 to 7 calories per minute. Another way of measuring an activities intensity is by assessing its metabolic equivalent (MET).

An MET compares a person's active metabolic rate to their resting rate. Using this method of measurement, moderate activities are those that increase a person's caloric consumption to a level that is 3 to 6 times his or her resting rate of consumption. In other words, a moderate intensity activity is one that is rated at 3-6 METs.

Intensity is one of the factors considered when a physical demands analysis (PAD) is prepared for a job. This PAD is then used to endure that an employee assigned to that job is able to meet the physical performance minimums for that job. An individual who cannot perform at a moderate intensity for the duration of the work day would not be a suitable candidate for a position where such activity was essential.

WorkplaceTesting explains Moderate Intensity

Health experts agree that regular physical activity is important for maintaining good health. To assist individuals ensure that they get adequate exercise, organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issue physical activity recommendations. These guidelines prescribe the minimum amounts of moderate and/or high intensity activity a person should engage in each week. It is important to understand what is meant by the different levels of activity to best apply these guidelines. The CDC recommends that adults should engage in 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week in addition to other muscle-strengthening activities.

To help individuals better understand what level of activity is considered moderate, many health and fitness professionals recommend using the talk test. A person engaged in an activity at moderate intensity will be able to talk, but not to sing. In comparison, a person engaged in vigorous activity will not be able to have a conversation while doing so. As moderate intensity activity is enough to affect not only cardiovascular processes, but breathing and oxygen availability to the body, it is important to increase break frequency for workers who regularly engage in moderate activity, or alternate moderate job duties with less strenuous job activities throughout the day.

It is important to note that moderate activity levels will vary from person to person and recommendations should never be made without taking into account a specific person's health. Moderate activity for a person who runs daily will likely be quite different than moderate activity for someone with asthma or who is just beginning an exercise routine.

Examples of common moderate intensity activities include brisk walking, yoga, golfing, dancing, and performing chores around the house. Jobs that require moderate intensity include landscaping, janitorial work, construction, and manufacturing jobs. Since the 1960's, the percentage of private industry jobs requiring moderate intensity work has declined. During this time an increasing number of jobs have developed that demand light or sedentary work. This shift in physical demands on the job may be responsible for decreased levels of physical activities across the working population.

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